Last week Church of the Nativity hosted the Matter Conference. In my breakout Commissioning the Next Generation I was asked, “What do you do to prevent teenagers from walking away from church after Confirmation?”
While we have not fixed the program we’ve realized that there are some systems that have needed to change. By changing the systems we are giving people clarity and setting them up for a more enriching experience. The three systems we’ve addressed that have caused the biggest impact are:
SYSTEM 1: CLARIFY THE PURPOSE
If you want someone to commit time and energy to something, you need to answer the question:
“Why does this matter?”
Knowing exactly why receiving the sacrament matters is key to having teens, parents and the church community embrace the journey. You and I are responsible for clarifying why this part of their journey is so important. Instead of teaching them what they need to know, we need tell our teenagers that:
Confirmation preparation is learning the next steps to a better you.
That’s it. Preparing for Confirmation is learning how to be a disciple of Christ, because we believe that’s the path to a more full and fulfilling life. Give them a purpose and watch them dive in.
SYSTEM 2: MOVE FROM THE CLASSROOM
Teens spend the majority of their time in school. Nothing sounds less attractive than more school, but this time it’s at night and you are more tired. The solution to the system is twofold.
The first part is that Confirmation preparation needs to be relational. If you are going to break open deep, enriching information with teens, then they are going to need to do that with someone they trust.
The second part is narrowing the focus and teaching less for a greater impact. While, there are millions of things we would love to communicate to the next generation we unfortunately do not have enough time. Focus on a few disciplines that will lead them to a deeper relationship.
A classroom is all about getting the information communicated, but when you set up your sacramental prep to be relational it’s about investing in that picture of what you hope the candidate will become.
SYSTEM3: BUILD AND WORK AS A TEAM
It doesn’t matter who is charged with leading the Confirmation program. In the end it’s a parish wide responsibility. The pastor, DRE, youth minister and everyone else needs to stack hands and get on board.
To get the buy in you need the right vision and you need to work on your communication as a team. Stop playing the blame game and start answering questions. Together you will figure out what’s best for the next generation.
Confirmation preparation might seem like a thorn in your side. It might feel like one of those impossible tasks. But, it’s worth it; you just need to own the challenge, own the situation and trust God.
Question: What other system issues need to be addressed in sacramental preparation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.